Japanese Airline Orders Airbus A380s

Low-cost airline Skymark is ordering four A380 double-decker superjumbo jets from Airbus, aiming to expand into international flights.

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese low-cost airline Skymark is ordering four A380 double-decker superjumbo jets from Airbus, aiming to expand into international flights.

Skymark Airlines said Monday the agreement will be final by early next year, including an option to buy two more A380 aircraft. It did not give a cost for the deal.

The order comes amid Australia's national carrier Qantas Airways grounding its six A380 jets after an engine burst minutes into a flight from Singapore to Sydney last week. The plane made a safe emergency landing in Singapore.

Tests have uncovered oil leaks in three Rolls-Royce engines on the grounded A380s as Qantas engineers try to zero in on the cause of the engine failure.

Skymark plans to use the A380s for international flights starting in about three years, with hopes of offering long-distance travel at reasonable prices. It currently only has domestic flights.

Skymark, founded in 1996, is a small player among Japanese airlines. The two major carriers are All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

Skymark employs nearly 1,400 people and its flights in Japan include to the northernmost island of Hokkaido and southern Okinawa.

European jet maker Airbus is locked in a battle against U.S. rival Boeing Co. to woo Japanese carriers.

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